You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You can’t make everyone happy.” Someone said that to me this week, and it triggered my reflection about their motive for making that statement. You see, it was pretty evident they were hungry for approval. Their quest to please others was really a reflection of their need for love and affirmation. Their striving to be people-pleaser came from a feeling of emptiness and a desire to be served, not to serve.
If we’re honest, everyone has a little people-pleaser in them. Some have more than others. A good question to ask in response to a people-pleasing tendency is “How concerned am I with me?“
Is my striving to please, at its deepest level, a striving to please myself? Am I attempting to garner some praise, make myself look superior, put someone in my debt, or simply to be loved? Would I still freely serve the other person if I got nothing in return?
If the answers to the above questions are yes, yes and no, then we have to unlearn what we have learned. There is a way to make everyone happy, but it’s not by trying to please them for your benefit.
To unwind worldly people-pleasing, you have to shift your focus from pleasing yourself to pleasing God. God-honoring people pleasing is about glory. Ask yourself these questions instead:
- Am I content to get out of the way?
- Who get’s the glory?
If your answers are yes and God, then you’re on the right track to unlearning what you’ve learned. To the degree we are seeking His glory, our people-pleasing becomes faithful, beautiful and liberating. We are called by God to please everyone in everything we do, and it is possible, as long as we do what we do in God’s name and humbly give Him the credit.
This is what I mean by being content to get out of the way. My aim is to give no offense to anyone, specifically an offense that might get in the way of them knowing God. They may be offended by Him, because of what he says, who he claims to be and what he demands, but not with me. As far as I’m concerned, I will go great lengths to say what I say and do what I do so that they will be pleased with me. I will be kind, calm, grateful, gentle, joyful, patient, respectful, caring and loving. In my experience, that is the only way to make everyone happy.